Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page
"Life can be very cruel and unfulfilling." That's the unmistakeable sound of a Woody Allen film landing at a European airport. And with To Rome with Love comes all the usual baggage: existential crises, sex, foreign stereotypes, pretty pictures of cities and, of course, more sex.
The good news? After Midnight in Paris' time-travelling shenanigans, To Rome with Love really does seem like a flight back to Allen's early days. The bad news? After Midnight in Paris' time-travelling shenanigans, To Rome with Love really does seem like a flight back to Allen's early days.
Gone are single-stranded plots or careful structuring. Instead, we have a tableau of stories - a mish-mash of ideas that feels like a bunch of a holiday photos strung together.
After days of waiting, my inner Woody Allen obsessive finally made it to the cinema to see Woody Allen: A Documentary. Let's be clear: it's not an incisive, hard-hitting exploration of one neurotic genius' inner workings. The Soon-Yi Preven situation? Yeah, no one really talks about that.
Yes, Soon-Yi appears in the background in some footage from You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger at Cannes Film Festival, but does she talk? No. Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway pop up to comment, but does Mia Farrow have anything to say? Not a jot. A tweet by her son on Father's Day had more to say about the whole mess than the documentary:
But as a comprehensive overview of one man's career, Robert Weide's is an entertaining and, in places, fascinating piece. It borders on hagiography (Hemingway briefly mentions "the clunkers") and the structure is a little wayward, but it contains enough factual gems to please devoted Woody fans - even the obsessives who thought they knew everything.
Here are 5 things Woody Allen: A Documentary taught me about him that I was afraid to ask:
Director: Gustavo Taretto
Cast: Javier Drolas, Pilar López de Ayala, Inés Efron
"If I can’t find someone when I know who I’m looking for, how can I find someone when I don’t know who I’m looking for?” That’s the question Mariana (López de Ayala) asks herself as she pores over Where’s Wally? books in her apartment. Four years out of a failed relationship, she spends most of her days hunting out a stripy man with a stick and dog - to no success.
Eight floors down, Martin (Drolas) is equally glum. An architect with a maudlin streak, he spends his days looking out of his tiny window and fretting about the state of the world.
Lonely, eccentric and only metres apart, they’re a perfect match. But although they’re stacked next to each other in shoebox apartments, they have no hope of ever meeting. And that’s the inspired move by Medianeras: the use of location to define the story.
Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page AND Greta Gerwig? Woody Allen's To Rome with Love is my new favourite poster.
The question is: where will it rank in Woody Allen Top Trumps? (Above Cassandra's Dream, obviously.)
Midnight in Paris came out on DVD this week (here's a review), almost perfectly timed to coincide with the end of the BFI Woody Allen Season (which ends today). After attempting to blog along with the retrospective of one of my favourite directors, I soon realised I didn't have the time. So instead, as a spectacular finale to the whole series, I spent the last couple of weeks gradually condensing all the highs and lows of Woody Allen's film-making career into one easy game of compare-the-statistics fun.
Spend all your time arguing about which Woody Allen film is the best? Settle the debate once and for all with your own Woody Allen Top Trumps deck. That's right. Woody Allen Top Trumps.
You all know the basic set-up (deal out the pack, pick a stat off your top facing card, read it aloud and whoever has the highest/lowest wins the round). Read on to see which categories are best - then download the full deck ready for you to print off here.
As you already know, I have an unhealthy obsession with Jean Dujardin's eyebrows. So rather than rant and blather on about the 2012 Oscar nominations, I'll let The Artist's facial hair do the talking for me. Until I get home from work this evening when I'll probably start blathering on anyway - because that, apparently, is what the internet is for.
Mostly, the Oscar nominations this year are as we all expected. But not quite. To begin with, Hugo is leading the pack. Yes, Martin Scorsese's Hugo has 11 nominations compared to Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, which has 10. Add to that Melissa McCarthy's Best Supporting Actress nod for Bridesmaids...
“Let me tell you a story and you tell me, is it material for a comedy or a tragedy?”
The starting point for Melinda and Melinda is the opening for every Woody Allen movie. As a director who finds comedy in the depressing and futile meaningless of life, Allen’s best work features comedy that stems from serious drama. Hannah and Her Sisters. The Purple Rose of Cairo. Husbands and Wives. Manhattan.
That duality is something that Allen openly confronts in binary titles. Crimes and Misdemeanors. Melinda and Melinda. Even Love and Death highlights the contrast between the silliness of farce and the philosophy of Chekhov. It’s when the director steps away from this balance that he starts to falter - see the Bergman-inspired Interiors, or the melodramatic Match Point, which expands one half of Crimes and Misdemeanours into a full feature-length narrative.
And so, as the BFI Woody Allen season continues, here are some thoughts on two of Woody’s most explicitly binary movies.
"I just met a wonderful new man. He's fictional but you can't have everything."
There's something about the surreal tone of Woody Allen, that intelligent silliness, that often reminds me of Monty Python. But unlike Python, Woody's neurotic humour stems from the inherently bleak, futile crappiness of human existence. And, of course, most of the grief (as well as the good bits) come from relationships.
Indeed, for the most part, it isn't a Woody Allen film if two married couples aren't both having affairs - usually with each other. So, to continue this blog-along series with the BFI Woody Allen season, here are some thoughts on two films with particularly tempestuous relationships.
If you've seen the opening credits for a Woody Allen film, you'll have noticed two things: the Windsor font and the music.
So, as the BFI Woody Allen season ventures into the 1990s, we look at two of the director's most musical numbers: Everyone Says I Love You and Sweet and Lowdown.
"Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. No, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over."
It's impossible not to quote that monologue when talking about Woody Allen movies - and the BFI Woody Allen season doesn't disappoint. And so we turn to Manhattan, a location so adored by the director that it gave its name to the title of his movies. Twice.